On July 1st, half the people in Spain go on vacation (the other half does it on August 1st), so I thought about writing a note with a few strokes of a brush remembering those summer vacations I also had as a child. Sorry, no “meditation-topic” this time.

Every summer, the entire family –my parents, my grandmother, my two younger brothers and myself– left out Barcelona (years later Madrid) to spend our summer vacation in an old house of a village in the province of León (mountains in the north of Spain), where we are all from.

We travelled the whole day along narrow roads in a Renault 8 (later in a Seat 131) full to the brim of people, suitcases, songs, sandwiches, and a mattress on top of the car, or some other such big stuff, of the kind that when they fell in disgrace they always manage to spent their last years in the house of the village before reaching their final resting place in a garbage container.

In those years the laws of aerodynamics did not exist in the world, and the mattress fixed to the roof of the car did not hamper at all its movement. The only precaution was in handling the black rubber ropes terminated in metal hooks used to secure it, a delicate operation only my dad could do because, as my grandmother usually said, those things could get your eye out for less than nothing (literal translation).

Through the village run a few rivers with names delightfully quirky: Combarros, Porco and Tuerto (an approximate translation of the names would be: Withmuds, Pork and One-eyed). I loved to rummage through the old rooms full of rare junk in my grandparents’ house, and more than once I caused trouble doing experiments with the sulfates and other chemical niceties against the Colorado potato beetle that still roamed in the old cabinets.

My grandfather was a farmer, until a doctor not so good at prescribing medicines managed what the fragments thrown out by an exploding bomb, collected in his body during the Spanish civil war, had failed to do. He was 60.

On the trip back, the mattress was replaced outside by a sack of potatoes, and inside we usually made room to take someone of the village with us (my dad, mom, granny, two younger brothers and myself) who needed to travel to the great metropolis, because the laws of Archimedes were neither in operation at that early time of history.